As kids throughout the country are getting ready to trick-or-treat tonight, it occurs to me how mobile phone use has impacted this tradition. When I was young, we had to rely on word of mouth to learn about the good houses—you know, the ones handing out full-size candy bars or displaying the scariest decorations. These days, news of the must-visit houses is just a text away, as is disclosure of houses to avoid, like those uncharitable enough to hand out—gasp!—toothbrushes or pennies.
Indeed, children are texting more than ever before, according to a new report by research firm Ofcom, which says that the average 8-11 year old now sends 41 text messages per week, almost twice the weekly number sent in 2011. Among 12-15 year olds, the average weekly number of texts rises to 193, more than double the 2011 figure.
The Ofcom report also notes that since 2011, the number of 12-15 year olds who own a smartphone has grown to 62 percent, up from 41 percent a year ago. As a result, parents of these older children can send off their trick-or-treaters knowing they can easily stay in touch through SMS.
It goes without saying that the proliferation of smartphones has also created instant gratification for grandparents and other relatives who no longer have to wait to see pictures of their loved ones in costume. Instead, MMS provides parents a fast and easy way to share their little pumpkins’ photos. Mobile subscribers’ use of multimedia messaging is at an all-time high, with U.S. smartphone users sending 58 billion MMS in the 12-month period ending June 30, an increase of almost 10 percent over the previous 12-month period, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association®.
With trick-or-treating upon us, there’s no doubt mobile phones will get a workout this evening. We at Interop wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween!